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Accrediting group gives Florida A&M ultimatum for accounting woes


Florida A&M University has six months to clean up its troubled financial situation or could lose its accreditation, one of the nation’s top college associations said Friday.

Students attending an unaccredited school are typically not eligible for financial aid, not to mention the damage it does to an institution’s reputation.

The sanctions by the Atlanta-based Southern Association of Colleges and Schools come only days before James Ammons is scheduled to return to his alma mater to take over as president. The association said Florida A&M was not in compliance with several of its regulations most of them financial.

“I don’t think the school has ever been at a lower spot than it is right now,” said state Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, a FAMU alum. “It’s really a shame the Board of Governors has been so unprepared and hands off that they would allow a university to get into this kind of position.”

The BOG is responsible for overseeing Florida’s 11 public universities.

SACS has been in business since 1895 and accredits roughly 800 colleges and universities in 11 Southern states and some in Latin America.

The school released a statement Friday saying officials have planned a press conference for next week after it receives official written notice from SACS. Ammons, who officially begins his presidency July 2, will attend the press conference, the statement said.

“We believe that Dr. Ammons’ experience with SACS and resolving issues at North Carolina Central University will prove to be invaluable as we move forward to resolve these issues,” said Larry Robinson, FAMU’s chief executive officer.

SACS’s formal report will be made public Thursday, said Tom Benberg, vice president and chief of staff for the association.

“When it rains it pours,” said state Rep. Curtis Richardson, D-Tallahassee, who said former Gov. Jeb Bush and the BOG must share in the blame with the school for its ongoing problems.

Richardson said Bush “put political appointees to oversee that university who were clearly not qualified.”

The school was also criticized Thursday by a state auditor who said the school’s inspector general’s office had gone 40 months without any formal reports on internal investigations and that $39 million in transactions and budget amendments were made with approval of the school’s board of trustees.

Auditor Manager Ted Sauerbeck told a special task force investigating the irregularities that there were also $1.8 million in missing receipts for athletics tickets and another $11,000 in bad checks were written by the administration without board approval.

– Associated Press

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